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One Of The Marine Corps' Most Legendary Heroes From Iraq Just Retired
Editor’s Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.
A Navy Cross recipient who overcame grievous war wounds to continue to lead Marines on active duty has finally retired.
Sgt. Maj. Bradley Kasal, perhaps best known for appearing in an iconic image by photographer Lucian Read, retired from his post as sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force on May 18, Marine officials said.
The famous photograph shows a wounded and bloody Kasal emerging from a building in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004 supported by Marines on his right and left. Then a first sergeant, Kasal had sustained wounds from seven bullets and taken more than 43 pieces of grenade shrapnel during a firefight. He reportedly had lost 60 percent of his blood by the time he emerged from the house, supported by two lance corporals, but still brandishing his sidearm and Ka-Bar knife.
In 2006, Kasal would receive the Navy Cross, the military's second-highest award for valor, for his heroism that day. According to his medal citation, Kasal had rolled on top of a wounded Marine to shield him, absorbing the shrapnel from an enemy grenade with his own body.
"When First Sergeant Kasal was offered medical attention and extraction, he refused until the other Marines were given medical attention," the citation read. "Although severely wounded himself, he shouted encouragement to his fellow Marines as they continued to clear the structure."
The photograph captured that day would later provide inspiration to sculptor John Phelps, a Gold Star father whose son, Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps, was killed in Iraq in 2004. Versions of Phelps' sculpture, Hell House, now stand at the entrance to wounded warrior Hope and Care Centers at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Camp Pendleton, California.
Sgt. Maj. Bradley A. Kasal, sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force, speaks to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Tactical Small Unit Leaders Course at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 26, 2017.U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Austin Mealy
A 2012 biography of Kasal by Nathaniel Helms, "My Men Are My Heroes," quickly became a staple of the Marine Corps Commandant's Professional Reading List.
The book characterizes Kasal as an icon even prior to his heroism in Fallujah.
"Even before entering Iraq, Kasal was almost mythical among Marines, known for leading his troops at the front to ensure that he would always be the first man into a fight," Helms writes. "In his mind, that is what Grunts do, and Brad Kasal is a true Grunt."
Kasal previously served as the senior enlisted leader of 4th Marine Division before becoming sergeant major of the Camp Pendleton-based I MEF. The posting is one of the most prestigious available to a Marine Corps sergeant major.
When Kasal assumed his post at I MEF in February 2015, he addressed troops within the unit with a brief and characteristically gritty speech.
"To all the Marines and sailors of I MEF, I thank you for what you do," he said. "I thank you for creating hate and discontent among the bad guys around the world, and I'm truly humbled to work for you and serve beside you."
When Kasal surrendered his sword of office to conclude a 34-year career May 18, he kept his message simple.
"I want every Marine and sailor to understand they enlisted for a reason and a purpose," Kasal said, according to a Marine Corps news release. "That purpose was to do something better, to swear to support and defend the constitution, and to be a part of something greater. I ask the Marines and sailors to always be proud of that."
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KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Large cargo ships, small fishing boats and other watercraft sail safely past Naval Station Norfolk every day, but there's always a possibility that terrorists could use any one of them to attack the world's largest naval base.
While Navy security keeps a close eye on every vessel that passes, there's an inherent risk for the sailors aboard small patrol boats who are tasked with helping keep aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers on base safe from waterborne attacks.
So the Navy experimented Wednesday to test whether an unmanned vessel could stop a small boat threatening the base from the Elizabeth River.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.